Cultivating a sense
of media responsibility
July 14, 2016
I remember an interesting
study made some years ago in an American paper about the effects of
media on children.
Distilled from some 173
researches done over a period of the past 30 years, the report said
there’s strong and disturbing correlation between children spending a
lot of time with TV, video games, Internet, etc. and a variety of
negative health effects.
“In a clear majority of
those studies, more time with television, films, video games,
magazines, music and the Internet was linked to rises in childhood
obesity, tobacco use and sexual behavior,” it said.
“A majority also showed
strong correlations – what the researchers deemed statistically
significant associations – with drug and alcohol use and low academic
achievement,” it continued.
The report is expectedly
done in a language considered as politically correct at the moment.
When it said that children’s overexposure to media can affect their
brain development, I think they mean it can deform their consciences.
When it said such exposure leads children to risky sexual behavior, I
think they mean immoral, that is, sinful sexual practices. But, ok, I
Those behind the study vowed
to continue monitoring and studying the developments in this area of
concern. One of them was surprised to find an absence of research into
the impact of new technologies.
He said, “Media has evolved
at a dizzying pace, but there’s almost no research about Facebook,
MySpace, cellphones, etc.” It’s good that such concern is now being
raised. Our challenge is how to identify dangerous trends in things
that offer many practical advantages. And of course, what to do with
Pertinent to this
observation, I have seen adults, not just children, badly affected by
these new gadgets. They show signs of obsession and addiction, as they
forget even to eat, they lose sleep and neglect other duties to their
families, not to mention the spiritual ones, like prayer.
In short, many have become
couch potatoes, glued to their seats for hours, completely dominated
by what’s before them on the screen, disoriented and practically dead
to the outside world and even their immediate surrounding. They live
I myself am having
difficulties in this area. I am now tempted to declare for myself some
email bankruptcy, since I receive so many of them everyday, mostly
spams, that just to erase them not only wastes my time, but also
raises my blood pressure.
It’s about time that we take
serious steps to know more about this trend and to do something, even
something drastic, about it. Our future is at stake. Our danger is not
only from wars and terrorism. It can come right from our own homes.
These technologies are notoriously treacherous.
This is, of course, a
responsibility of everyone. Parents have the primary and most direct
role to play. Then the teachers and other elders. But the government
and also the media should do their part.
And given the latter’s
capabilities and resources, they should do something massive and
abiding to support the parents’ delicate duties in this regard. They
cannot anymore be naïve and play blind. They have to boldly face the
Those behind the study are
precisely recommending this. And I’m very happy about that proposal.
Alas, it seems the time has arrived for this concern to be taken
seriously, and not anymore treated as an idea so wild it has to be
chased away. I hope I’m not wrong.
On many occasions, I get
deeply but helplessly bothered by what I see especially on noontime TV
shows that are greedily lapped up by the people, especially the young
ones and those who are mostly idle.
There’s so much inanity and
frivolity, so much twisted values being flaunted with almost total
impunity. People are given a daily diet of toxic entertainment. Sooner
or later, the effects will show. We are now building up a potential
moral and social explosion.
We need to liberate
ourselves from such foolishness, hiding behind the excuse that people
just want to have fun and amusement. The idea is not to kill fun, but
to make it fit for human consumption.
Though things vary from
person to person, family to family, group to group, concrete plans of
actions have to be made to guide everyone for a prudent use of the new
Schools should take active
part in imparting the proper guideline on use of these new
technologies. We have to find ways of how to effectively monitor the
effects of these technologies on the people, especially the young.
statement on the murder of Gloria Capitan, anti-coal activist in
Reuben Muni, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast
Asia, said: "Greenpeace condemns in the strongest terms the murder of
Gloria Capitan, a staunch anti-coal advocate who bravely stood up
against plans for coal stockpiles and a coal-fired power plant in
Mariveles, Bataan, at the height of overwhelming local government
support for coal energy and a national policy favoring the same.
"Ate Glo, as she was fondly called, was a member of the Coal-Free
Bataan Movement, which Greenpeace Philippines works with. She was
gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assassins on the night of July 1,
2016. She was 57 years old.
"Her untimely passing is not only a significant loss to the coal-free
movement in the Philippines, but the manner of her death is a huge
blow to our struggle for human rights and against criminality.
Greenpeace, together with other organizations working on the anti-coal
campaign in Bataan, condemns this attempt to silence the growing
opposition to coal-fired power generation not only in Bataan but also
in other parts of the country.
"Greenpeace demands justice for Gloria Capitan and other fallen
environmental defenders This is a challenge to President Rodrigo
Duterte's drive against criminality, which shouldn’t be limited to
stopping drug-related crimes but should also go after criminals who
target activists standing up to powerful interests. Those who defend
the environment need to be protected."
positive overtures of the incoming Duterte regime and assert the
A press statement by the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines - Eastern Visayas
June 20, 2016
A new ruling regime will be
in place on June 30 with the proclamation of president-elect Davao
City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. On that day, the National Democratic
Front-Eastern Visayas calls on the people to come out to support the
positive overtures of the incoming Duterte regime, as well as to
present their basic problems and assert their interests.
Rodrigo Duterte has stirred
great expectations by appointing progressives to some posts in his
Cabinet, promising to release all political prisoners and resume the
peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),
and crusading against crime and corruption. At the same time, the NDF-Eastern
Visayas is mindful that Duterte’s election does not mean doing away
with the reactionary ruling system, and that he is surrounded by
reactionaries of various stripes as well as US imperialism.
revolutionary movement is open to alliance with the Duterte regime so
the people can avail of benefits that can improve their conditions, as
well as allow them to organize and strengthen the democratic mass
movement. The revolutionary movement in Eastern Visayas furthermore
supports the NDFP’s efforts to secure the release of the detained
peace consultants and all political prisoners, resume the peace talks,
and reach with the Philippine government an agreement on
Human rights advocates,
peace advocates and the church people in Eastern Visayas have the
moral high ground to call on the incoming Duterte regime to honor its
vow to release all political prisoners and resume the peace talks with
the NDFP. The political prisoners in Eastern Visayas have been
languishing in jail for years on trumped-up charges that treat them as
common criminals and not as prisoners by reason of the armed conflict.
Eastern Visayas also continues to struggle with militarization and the
culture of impunity for human rights violations including media
killings under the outgoing Aquino regime.
The survivors of super
typhoon Yolanda must avail of the incoming regime to strengthen their
struggle for justice against the criminal negligence of the Aquino
regime, as well as demand the junking of the corruption-ridden Yolanda
rehabilitation and reconstruction program that favor the big business
cronies of the outgoing regime and not the urban and rural poor who
suffered the most. They and the victims of other calamities can call
on the incoming progressive social welfare secretary, Dr. Judy
Taguiwalo, for the long overdue assistance that were denied them under
the previous administration. In the latest calamity to befall the
region, at least 44 people recently died from a mere diarrhea epidemic
– a bitter reminder of the reactionary government’s historical neglect
of Eastern Visayas.
The peasants of Eastern
Visayas welcome the appointment of the progressive Rafael Mariano to
the agrarian reform department of the incoming Duterte regime, and
assert their calls for genuine agrarian reform. They are also calling
for the return of the coconut levy funds stolen by the Marcos regime,
irrigation, and other agricultural support such as against pest
infestations that currently afflict coconut, abaca and rice in the
Meanwhile, the workers and
government employees in the region look forward to the incoming
Duterte regime’s commitment to end labor contractualization, while
pushing for the ending of other anti-labor policies such as the
two-tier wage system. They also assert the P16,000 wage and salary
increases and P25,000 for teachers, and the social security pension
increase that was denied by the Aquino regime.
The youth and students must
urge the incoming Duterte regime to scrap the K+12 program that is
leading to massive dropouts. They must call for greater subsidies to
state universities and colleges and a free, nationalist, scientific
and mass-oriented education system.
Furthermore, the people of
Eastern Visayas call on the incoming Duterte regime to scrap the
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Visiting Forces Agreement and
other unequal agreements with the US. These have only allowed the
violation of our national sovereignty and give license to increasing
US military intervention. The people in the region remain vigilant
over the possible entry of US troops after the launching of US-backed
psywar projects, such as the recently concluded Millennium Challenge
Corporation road network as well as other projects by the US Agency
for International Development.
It is also fine and well
that the incoming Duterte regime vows to campaign against crime and
corruption, especially the menace of illegal drugs. The NDF-Eastern
Visayas urges Duterte to live up to his tough words and crack down on
the Ong political dynasty in Northern Samar that, according to
investigation by the New People’s Army, is behind the widespread
illegal drugs trade in the province. The newly elected second district
congressman, Edwin Ong, is believed to be the biggest drug lord in the
province, with the backing of his uncle, the reelected governor Jose
Ong, Jr. If the Duterte regime wishes to curb the illegal drugs trade,
it is best to go after big fish like the Ong dynasty and their police
and military protectors, which will effectively also do away with the
In the final analysis, it is
not enough for the people to passively take the incoming Duterte
regime’s words and actions. They must continue the tasks of arousing,
organizing and mobilizing to press for as well as defend their basic
democratic rights. The armed revolutionary movement must also remain
steadfast, take advantage of any ceasefire to consolidate and to
conduct propaganda and education to win over the masses to the
national democratic cause, and intensify the people’s war at every
opportunity. After all, having peace talks with the incoming Duterte
regime is not an end in itself, but still a long and arduous journey
towards a just and lasting peace.
A Bright Prospect
for Peace for the Filipino People
A Statement of the
Ecumenical Bishops Forum in Support of the Peace Efforts of the
June 20, 2016
The rise of the
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to the highest office in the land
portends peace to our country which has been wracked by violence for
decades if not centuries now.
The Muslims arrived in Sulu
in the 9th century as a result of the massacre of the Muslim Arabs in
Canton in 877 AD (The Struggle of the Philippine Muslims: A Historical
Perspective by Dr. Darwin T. Rasul III). From thence Islam began to
take root in the islands. In 1450 the Sultanate of Sulu was
established, followed by the Sultanate of Mindanao in the 16th
With trading the Muslims
spread their religion to Mindoro, Palawan, Manila and the rest of
Luzon. Had there been no interruption, Islam could have been the
religion throughout the islands. And the Filipino Muslims could have
lived in peace.
The coming of the Spanish
conquistadores in the 16th century, however, disrupted life for the
Muslims. The Spaniards were able to conquer most of Luzon and the
Visayas with their sword and cross. They also attempted to vanquish
Muslim Mindanao, but the more organized natives fought back fiercely.
Those sent to vanquish them, like Capt. Figueroa, were instead killed
by Moro fighters, including the famous slay of Magellan by Lapulapu.
The Spaniards never conquered the Muslims and Mindanao remained to be
Meanwhile, throughout the
islands, Andres Bonifacio organized in 1896 the Katipunan (Kataastaasang
Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan in full, or KKK), a
nationwide revolutionary movement to liberate the country from the
oppressive and exploitative hands of the colonizers.
In 1898, on the verge of
defeat, the Spaniards surrendered, not to the Filipino revolutionaries
unfortunately, but to the Americans who pretended to be protectors of
the revolutionaries but actually became the new colonizers.
In the Treaty of Paris which
was signed between Spain and the US in December 1898, the Philippines
was ceded by the former to the latter at the cost of $20 million.
Mindanao, which was never colonized by Spain, was part of the
territories given to the US.
The Muslims once again
resisted colonization. The US, however, more cunning and deceptive
than Spain, managed to subjugate the Muslims not through military
force, but through the use of the divide-and-rule and the
carrot-and-stick tactics. They established a Moro province which was
supposed to take care of the needs of the Moro people, but in effect
was a way to administratively colonize the Moro people.
They offered amnesty to Moro
“rebels”, set up an education program which granted to sons and
daughters of Moro leaders free higher education which effectively
changed their values and culture to embrace America, and put up
foreign government brought by settlers from North Luzon, and started
the exploitation of Mindanao’s rich resources. Through the Torrens
land titling, the Filipino Muslims lost their land which became public
land. Their territories including their ancestral land, are controlled
by elite settlers and foreign multinational corporations ((Guiamel M.
Alim in The Bangmoro Struggle for Self-Determination, June 1995).
When the US granted
“independence” to the Philippines, Mindanao was included under the
national government despite the protests of the Muslims.
In order to regain their
land and freedom, they organized armed resistance against the
Philippine government: the Moro National Liberation Front, its
breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and lately the Bangsamoro
Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Now, six (6) centuries
later, the Bangsamoro is still struggling for their land, life and
On the other hand, the
Filipino people led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New People’s
Army, are waging an armed protracted people’s war. Started in ‘60’s,
the armed resistance is now on its fourth (4th) decade.
To be sure, there were
already attempts by previous governments to forge peace with Muslim
Mindanao and the CPP-NDFP-NPA, but these did not last. Governments
seemed more interested in surrender rather than lasting peace.
The ascent of a President
Duterte who had shown true friendship with the rebels from both groups
in Mindanao gives hope to the Bangsamoro and the Left that genuine
peace based on justice is possible.
The GPH Peace Panel has
already been formed and had started working. On June 14-15, they had
initial talks with the NDFP panel in Oslo, Norway on resuming the
formal peace talks.
As far as the Bangsamoro is
concerned, incoming President Duterte had a talk with representatives
of the MNFL and MILF on June 17 in his desire to achieve a lasting
peace in Mindanao.
After six centuries as far
as the Moro people are concerned, and after four decades as far as the
Left are concerned, peace, genuine peace may at last see the dawn!
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum
supports the effort of the incoming Duterte administration to forge
peace with Bangsamoro and the Left and unify the whole Filipino people
towards progress and peace.
At this point, let us be
reminded of the words of the Psalmist:
“Let me hear
what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful,
to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground’
And righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
And will make a path for his steps.”
(Psalms 85:8-13, NRSV)
Issued and signed this 20th
day of June, 2016.
A Bridge of Hope
A statement by the
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) congratulating the
incoming GPH peace panel
June 18, 2016
The Philippine Ecumenical
Peace Platform (PEPP),* the largest ecumenical formation of church
leaders in the country, congratulates the incoming Negotiating Panel
of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Panel of the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), for successfully
concluding their preliminary talks in Oslo, Norway, with the help of
the third party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government. Their
initial talks produced a Joint Statement indicating that the two
parties will resume the formal peace talks on the third week of July,
PEPP is elated over the fact
that bridges are being built by both parties in order to have a just
and enduring peace in our country. PEPP is inspired by the optimism
generated by the parties’ meeting as reflected in their Joint
Statement. It is a bridge of hope that principled negotiations may
bear fruit and address the roots of the armed conflict.
The Joint Statement said
that the formal peace talks will take on the following: affirmation of
previously signed agreements; accelerated process for negotiations;
reconstitution of the Joint Immunity and Safety Guarantees (JASIG);
amnesty proclamation; and, the mode of interim ceasefire.
The Joint Statement also
pointed out that the incoming GPH panel will recommend the release of
NDFP consultants and political prisoners to President-elect Rodrigo
As peace advocates guided by
the teachings of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, PEPP enjoins the
Filipino people to support this initiative from the GPH and the NDFP.
Let us pray for its success.
Issued and Signed this day
18th day of June 2016.
Putting religion on
June 16, 2016
WE have to learn how to
blend these two elements. We cannot be simplistic and put them always
in conflict. Yes, there are dangers to avoid. But we have to
distinguish the good from the evil involved in the use of money.
Otherwise, we might throw the baby out with the bath water.
It’s true that the Gospel
warns us to serve only one master. We cannot serve both God and
Mammon, the false idol of material wealth that exercises bad influence
on us. (cfr. Mt 6,24)
But this indication is not
an outright condemnation of money. We always need money, since we are
not angels. We are simply asked to avoid the extreme of considering
money as our God, and the other extreme of regarding money as
intrinsically evil. We have to be careful with money because, as St.
Paul warned, ‘love for money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim
Christ himself had to use
some money. When asked if he also had to pay taxes, he told Peter,
after alluding that strictly speaking he should be exempted from it,
to go to the shore to get money from a fish to pay the taxes. (cfr. Mt
Money has to be used with a
growing sensibility to its moral dimensions. It has to fit our true
human dignity. It has to be related to our conscience, and ultimately
to religion. It has to serve both God and man. It can be a wonderful
tool for our material and spiritual growth.
In other words, money should
not just be used following exclusively practical and economic
criteria. We also have to consider higher, spiritual values, since we
are not purely economic creatures, but are persons and children of
There’s no doubt that money
contributes to human progress. Imagine a world without money! We’d
hardly advance from the Stone Age. And with population growing and the
economy stagnant, there’s nothing much to expect other than chaos.
From my Economics 101 class,
I learned that money has to circulate as fast as possible to generate
economic activity, and thus affect more people and hopefully produce
But obviously this is not
only a matter of speed. There has to be proper direction, since as St.
Augustine once said, no matter how fast one runs, if he is off-track,
he will never reach the finish line.
We need to find the proper
blend. It’s a continuing task requiring us to pray, study, observe,
consult, and decide. It’s not easy, and never a perfect activity. We
often can’t see the forest for its trees. It thrives more on trial and
error. And so we have to be flexible also.
I remember that before I got
ordained – this was in Rome – I was asked to buy a new pair of shoes.
So I went around to look for the one I liked. When I finally found the
pair, I asked the saleslady if those shoes would last long.
She stared at me, as if I
was a Martian. Then she asked me, “But why would you like the shoes to
That question stunned me.
I’ve always been taught to buy things that can last even as long as a
lifetime. But that remark led me to thinking more deeply. Of course,
if everyone would buy shoes only once in a rare while, how would the
shoe industry fare?
I concluded that the lady
had a very valid point. But I had to study things more
comprehensively. I had to integrate it with the requirements of
temperance and Christian poverty.
When I was in high school, I
hardly bought anything. I always thought I had everything that I
needed, since I was told not to create needs. I got this trait from my
parents who were very Spartan.
My younger sister, however,
would remind me it was time to change my wardrobe, or would introduce
me to products like skin lotions and colognes, and the new styles
I was afraid I would fall
into consumerism and materialism which I thought would elude my
sister’s understanding. But since I did not see these anomalies in
her, I followed part of her suggestions. I concluded I exaggerated my
Now I realize she was
helping the economy, aside from making me look kind of good. She had
more common sense, was more down-to-earth, while I tended to be
cocooned with my books.
With all the recently
discovered ugly schemes and scams in our complicated economic
environment today, there’s a crying need to hone this skill of
properly blending money and religion.
A Taste of the Iron
A press statement by the
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK)
June 14, 2016
News have been pouring in
from mainstream media of a substantial number of minors being captured
due to the curfew of 9pm to 4am imposed in municipalities such as Las
Pinas, Manila, Quezon City, Mandaluyong and Caloocan. Local ordinances
for the imposition of curfew have already been in place years before
-- in Manila by 2002 and in Quezon City by 2014. However, with the
expected rise to power of President-elect Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, the
Philippine National Police is now enforcing these operations under the
name Oplan “Rid the Streets of Drinkers and Youth” or Oplan Rody. The
coverage of mainstream media on the incidents, however, fail to tackle
or promote discussion regarding the impacts of these ordinances on the
youth, especially for those taking the night shifts for school,
working students and the poor.
K-12 and the education
The Enhanced Basic Education
Act of 2013 which resulted in the implementation of the K-12 Basic
Education Program had aimed to improve the quality of education for
Filipinos across the country. However, the dismal implementation lead
to only a handful of schools ready for K-12 and thus exacerbated and
continued the shortage of classrooms, lack of textbooks and
insufficient budget to absorb the senior high enrollees. With most
schools proving to have inadequate facilities, the K-12 schools are
congested and thus require the employment of shifts reaching up to
night-time to accommodate them. Schools such as the Pamantasan ng
Lungsod ng Maynila and Universidad de Manila have their classes
extending up to 9pm. The lack of K-12 ready schools are also an added
burden to students pursuing senior high school as schools in their
area cannot operate for K-12 yet.
Students as young as 17 also
participate in Department of Labor and Employment’s Special Program of
Employment for Students (SPES) to be able to continue with their
education. The working hours under this program most probably span the
late hours of the day to match their school schedule.
Chances of these students
going beyond the curfew are also amplified with the upcoming monsoon
rains and heavy flooding expected from the lamentable state of the
public transportation system and road networks which add to the travel
time required for their trips home.
More space for human rights
Minors are required to
present papers which certify that they are students dismissed from
their classes in the evening or got off from work through presenting
copies of their schedules. Although seemingly harmless since it just
merits a check on certain documents, this hauntingly harks back to the
Martial Law days wherein police have the prerogative to demand details
from citizens. While those who violare the ordinances are only
supposed to receive warning and lectures, certain police stations have
been found to be inconsistent in their procedures with some having
push-ups as punishment. It should also be noted that these operations
should be supervised by professionals such as social workers and
police officers from the PNP Women and Children Protection Center
since it concerns minors. If the implementation of these ordinances
are not properly regulated, too much power may be given to the police
force and this can be taken advantage of if put in the wrong hands.
Poor more prone to
oppression in war on crime
Unemployment among the
uneducated youth has been found to lead to a propensity for committing
criminal offenses such as theft and drug-related offenses. Property
crimes are largely correlated to poverty as these are found to be the
remaining avenues for the people to get resources from required to
continue with their lives especially with the high cost of living due
to the high prices of basic commodities and insufficiency of basic
social services. Operations against petty crimes, aside from having
the poor most susceptible, also fail to address the roots of these
social ills and thus lead to a growing cycle of poverty and crime.
Thus SPARK-Samahan ng
Progresibong Kabataan expresses its deep concern regarding the
operations performed by the police force which show utter disregard to
realities faced by each and every ordinary Filipino. Rather than
solving the problem of criminality by providing young Filipinos with
an education that will provide them with a better future, the steps
taken only further handicap their chances at a better life. Rather
than solving the problem of criminality by cultivating a police force
that truly serves and protects, the steps taken only harken back to
the darker days of our history. Rather than solving the problem of
criminality from its source through taking steps to alleviate poverty,
the steps taken are those which hold the poor most vulnerable and
leave the most responsible and those in power free from repercussion.
These ordinances may only
apply to these particular cities now, but we as citizens should always
be vigilant, especially as it appears that a police-state is what
awaits the country under the administration of President-elect Rodrigo
Duterte, who has risen to power on a platform of anti-criminality.
CURFEW: ADDITIONAL BURDEN TO
THE HORRID IMPLEMENTATION OF K-12 PROGRAM!
COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, UNJUST AND IMPRACTICABLE DECREE!
STRUGGLE AGAINST THE LOOMING